History of EOC
President of the Republic met the Ecumenical Patriarch (october 27, 2000)

President Lennart Meri received the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who is on a visit to Estonia, in Kadriorg today. President Meri conferred the Order of the Cross of St Mary's Land on His Holiness, pointing out that the name of is a reminder of the time 829 years ago, when Estonia was named after Mother of God. As the President said, the visits of the Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch to different parts of the world are always followed closely by the public, and the reason for this is his personal devotion to the solution of the problems of the world.

''Your visit to Estonia is also a token of love and consideration for our people and our culture. Your caring for the Estonian Orthodox believers has been confirmed many times. You have sent your best bishop to this difficult field and I can only gratefully state that he has by today achieved much in building up the church;'' the President said. As the Estonian Head of State pointed out, the understanding of the continuity of cultural traditions was also manifest in the canonisation of the martyr bishop Plato. As the President said, he is proud that the Estonian Orthodox Church has dedicated a decoration to the memory of the martyr bishop Plato - the Order of St. Plato that was conferred on the Greek President Constantinos Stephanopoulos during his visit to Estonia. The President emphasised that by this act, the Estonian saint and also the Orthodox here in Estonia introduced themselves to the world.

The Patriarchate of Constantinople, known for its successful environmental symposiums, has a delightful message for Estonians - the next symposium will be dedicated to the problems of the Baltic Sea. The President once more wished to confirm his consent to be a patron of this event, as he said, the Church in modern times is aware of the social needs that cannot be ignored by an ordinary member of the congregation, whether they be environmental problems, problems of the social sphere, education or church policy.

The President recognised the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, whose members have had to tackle economic, canonical and political hardships within the last years, which have made the church flexible and endowed it with life force; the church is also known at all levels of the society. ''Our Constitution provides that the state is separated from the church, but it has never been said that the church should be separated from the state. The church is part of the state. It grows with the state, and cares for its members likewise,'' President Meri emphasised, adding that when state officials tend to forget about ethics, it is the church leaders who must refresh their memory.

As the President said, the big religions of the world are called upon to increase religious tolerance, so that the followers of Abraham and Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha could together speak of brotherly love without keeping their swords ready at hand. ''The Ecumenical movement should be especially close to the heart of the Ecumenical Patriarch, and I am convinced that New Rome shall be its abundant source,'' the President said when conferring the decoration.

The Ecumenical Patriarch expressed his great delight with the meeting. ''We have been the first among the Archbishops of the East Orthodox Churches to have restored the autonomy that was granted to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church by the Tomos of the Patriarch and the Synod in 1923, after the resolution of Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow in 1920, not to rule but to serve the Orthodox Churches,'' the Patriarch said when receiving the decoration.

''In order to recognise and to record for ever and indelibly the great services that you in your high position have rendered to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church and to your nation, we confer on Your most honourable Excellency the Holy Cross of the Most Blessed Virgin,'' the Ecumenical Patriarch said. The Most Blessed Holy Virgin is the patroness and protector of the Patriarchal Cathedral of Holy Martyr St. George the Triumphant and the Patriarchal Administration at Phanar.

President of the Republic hosted a dinner at Kadriorg for of His Holiness and his accompanying delegation.

Press Service of the Office of the President

Kadriorg, October 27, 2000

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